[Ads-l] Is "Jezebel" a racist name?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 10 23:22:29 EST 2021


> the term is more obviously misogynistic than racist

That there is a specific connection between the term. _jezebel_, and black
women such as to render the term racist. is news to me. But, as we say in
the 'hood, "That's just me." Others may have lived a
different life-experience. In that case, "YMMV,"  to use a Larry-ism.

On Wed, Feb 10, 2021 at 9:24 PM Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
wrote:

> I think there’s another dimension besides the general effect of pejoration
> (AHD glosses “Jezebel" as merely ‘a woman who is evil and scheming’, which
> falls somewhat short of the mark, since it’s generally a sexually-based
> insult, whatever else it is—we’re not talking a synonym of “shrew” here),
> and leaving aside the question of racism—it’s clear (to me at least) that
> the term is more obviously misogynistic than racist. That additional
> dimension is brought out by the definition of “Jezebel” at, yes, the urban
> dictionary site, where the first entry (earning 385 thumbs up and only 43
> thumbs down from the "experts”) is
>
> A female who is seeking attention from and possibly plotting to use
> someone who is wealthy or otherwise desirable in order to gain status in
> society.
>
> —although I would submit that ‘seeking attention from’ is too coy by
> half.
>
> The 10-year relationship Peter between Kamala Harris and long-separated
> California assembly leader Willie Brown (who was elected S.F. mayor in 1996
> after their relationship ended) is frequently brought up by right-wing
> zealots on Quora, and I would guess other social media platforms, as
> evidence not simply that Harris “slept around” but that she “slept her way
> to the top”, for which there is no evidence. I am familiar with similar
> insults hurled at women of other races, and much less frequently at men,
> whence the absence of a lexical item for (straight) men along the same
> lines, i.e.
>
> A male who is seeking [um]attention from and possibly plotting to use
> someone who is wealthy or otherwise desirable in order to gain status in
> society.
>
> While the aforementioned zealots might well be motivated by racial animus
> in attacking Kamala Harris as a Jezebel, I don’t see the term itself as
> racist, anymore than “Satan” or “Antichrist” is, just because racists are
> fond of depicting Obama as one or the other or both.
>
> LH
>
> > On Feb 10, 2021, at 8:47 PM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
> >
> > It's a known fact that she dated Willy Brown while he was still
> married.  I would assume they were referring to that.
> >
> > Apparently Brown had been at the time long estranged from his wife, and
> dated openly, so it may be unfair and insulting to call her a "Jezebel"
> under those circumstances, but it is not clear that it was "overtly racist"
> to call her by that name.
> > ________________________________
> > From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
> Tomas Alvarez <tomasalvarez95 at GMAIL.COM>
> > Sent: Wednesday, February 10, 2021 5:28:56 PM
> > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Subject: Re: Is "Jezebel" a racist name?
> >
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       Tomas Alvarez <tomasalvarez95 at GMAIL.COM>
> > Subject:      Re: Is "Jezebel" a racist name?
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > The way the two Baptist pastors from Texas meant it was *overtly racist*.
> > They might as well have added: "By the way, we're calling her 'Jezebel'
> > because she is both black and Indian, something we cannot even begin to
> > understand." I'm noticing a concerning trend in this mailing list of
> > consistently relativizing racism and misogyny. Are we the ADS list or the
> > hate list?
> >
> > Tomas
> >
> > On Wed, Feb 10, 2021 at 5:04 PM Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >
> >> Would have made the Bette Davis movie very contraversial...
> >>
> >> On Wed, Feb 10, 2021, 7:01 AM Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
> >> wrote:
> >>
> >>>> Further, since the age of American slavery, Jezebel came to be
> >> understood
> >>> as an overly sexual Black woman, a stereotype depicted in film and
> >> fiction.
> >>>
> >>> Exx. of the word used in this sense - other than by recent academics?
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> JL
> >>>
> >>> JL
> >>>
> >>> On Wed, Feb 10, 2021 at 3:34 AM Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu>
> >>> wrote:
> >>>
> >>>> Jezebel.com describes itself as "A Supposedly Feminist Website."
> >>>> SG
> >>>> ________________________________
> >>>> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
> >>>> Baker, John <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM>
> >>>> Sent: Tuesday, February 9, 2021 3:07 PM
> >>>> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> >>>> Subject: Re: Is "Jezebel" a racist name?
> >>>>
> >>>> The article does make a case for =E2=80=9CJezebel=E2=80=9D being raci=
> > st as well as
> >>> sexist:
> >>>>
> >>>> =E2=80=9CBiblically, Jezebel was a princess and a prophet. She tried =
> > to save
> >> her
> >>>> own life and tempted a member of the royal guard. In popular culture,
> >> her
> >>>> name is used to refer to a =E2=80=9Cloose woman.=E2=80=9D Further, si=
> > nce the age of
> >>>> American slavery, Jezebel came to be understood as an overly sexual
> >> Black
> >>>> woman, a stereotype depicted in film and fiction. Most recently, the
> >>> image
> >>>> of the =E2=80=9CBlack Jezebel=E2=80=9D was popularized in 1970s Blaxp=
> > loitation films.=E2=80=9D
> >>>>
> >>>> I would characterize =E2=80=9CJezebel=E2=80=9D as an insult more pejo=
> > rative than =E2=80=9Cslut=E2=80=9D
> >>>> but perhaps not as strong as =E2=80=9Cwhore.=E2=80=9D  Do sexualized =
> > epithets become
> >>> worse
> >>>> when they are directed to black rather than white women?  I don=E2=80=
> > =99t know;
> >>>> they=E2=80=99re pretty bad already.
> >>>>
> >>>> Note that news article headlines are usually not written by the autho=
> > r
> >> of
> >>>> the article.  I question whether it was appropriate for the headline =
> > to
> >>>> focus on the term=E2=80=99s racist implications while ignoring the mo=
> > re
> >> prominent
> >>>> sexist implications.
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> John Baker
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> On Behalf Of
> >>>> dave at WILTON.NET
> >>>> Sent: Tuesday, February 9, 2021 2:49 PM
> >>>> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> >>>> Subject: Re: Is "Jezebel" a racist name?
> >>>>
> >>>> External Email - Think Before You Click
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> My understanding is that referring to a Black woman as a "Jezebel"
> >> brings
> >>>> to bear a cultural stereotype of Black women being hypersexual that i=
> > s
> >>> not
> >>>> present when referring to a white woman by that name. The denotation =
> > is
> >>>> still "loose woman," only that it is problematic in additional ways
> >> when
> >>>> used to refer to Black women.
> >>>>
> >>>> See Dagbovie-Mullins, Sika A. "Pigtails, Ponytails, and Getting Tail:
> >> The
> >>>> Infantilization and Hyper-Sexualization of African American Females i=
> > n
> >>>> Popular Culture." Journal of Popular Culture, 46.4, 2013, 745-71. Or:
> >>> "The
> >>>> Jezebel Stereotype,"
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/jezebel/__;!!O=
> > ToaGQ!_jN9Hv1bByM7bqNIdEen4L2zXq_3b-zwNkkGUYoWnYLXo9YciMJczjH9LTZauBRs$
> >>>> <
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/jezebel__;!!OT=
> > oaGQ!_jN9Hv1bByM7bqNIdEen4L2zXq_3b-zwNkkGUYoWnYLXo9YciMJczjH9LT4IeqzP$
> >>>>> . Also Googling Jezebel and Sapphire turns up a lot. (Sapphire is a
> >> term
> >>>> for the stereotype of an emasculating Black woman.)
> >>>>
> >>>> There's also a podcast titled "Black Jezebel," which from the
> >> description
> >>>> on the Apple Podcasts site takes a sex-positive view of Black female
> >>>> sexuality. The title would seem to be an attempt to reclaim the word.
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-bla=
> >
> ck-jezebel-podcast/id1476628866__;!!OToaGQ!_jN9Hv1bByM7bqNIdEen4L2zXq_3b-zw=
> > NkkGUYoWnYLXo9YciMJczjH9LdGfMMra$
> >>>> <
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-bla=
> >
> ck-jezebel-podcast/id1476628866__;!!OToaGQ!_jN9Hv1bByM7bqNIdEen4L2zXq_3b-zw=
> > NkkGUYoWnYLXo9YciMJczjH9LdGfMMra$
> >>>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> -----Original Message-----
> >>>> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU<mailto:
> >>>> ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>> On Behalf Of Jonathan Lighter
> >>>> Sent: Tuesday, February 9, 2021 11:16 AM
> >>>> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU<mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> >>>> Subject: [ADS-L] Is "Jezebel" a racist name?
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.yahoo.com/news/texas-pastors-unde=
> >
> r-fire-referring-123515004.html__;!!OToaGQ!_jN9Hv1bByM7bqNIdEen4L2zXq_3b-zw=
> > NkkGUYoWnYLXo9YciMJczjH9LeMgG9Aw$
> >>>> <
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.yahoo.com/news/texas-pastors-unde=
> >
> r-fire-referring-123515004.html__;!!OToaGQ!_jN9Hv1bByM7bqNIdEen4L2zXq_3b-zw=
> > NkkGUYoWnYLXo9YciMJczjH9LeMgG9Aw$
> >>>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> JL
> >>>> <
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.yahoo.com/news/texas-pastors-unde=
> >
> r-fire-referring-123515004.html__;!!OToaGQ!_jN9Hv1bByM7bqNIdEen4L2zXq_3b-zw=
> > NkkGUYoWnYLXo9YciMJczjH9LeMgG9Aw$
> >>>> <
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.yahoo.com/news/texas-pastors-unde=
> >
> r-fire-referring-123515004.html__;!!OToaGQ!_jN9Hv1bByM7bqNIdEen4L2zXq_3b-zw=
> > NkkGUYoWnYLXo9YciMJczjH9LeMgG9Aw$
> >>>>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> --
> >>>> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the
> >>> truth."
> >>>>
> >>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >>>> The American Dialect Society -
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__http://www.americandialect.org__;!!OToaGQ!_jN=
> > 9Hv1bByM7bqNIdEen4L2zXq_3b-zwNkkGUYoWnYLXo9YciMJczjH9LR_vj1-f$
> >>>> <
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__http://www.americandialect.org__;!!OToaGQ!_jN=
> > 9Hv1bByM7bqNIdEen4L2zXq_3b-zwNkkGUYoWnYLXo9YciMJczjH9LR_vj1-f$
> >>>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >>>> The American Dialect Society -
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__http://www.americandialect.org__;!!OToaGQ!_jN=
> > 9Hv1bByM7bqNIdEen4L2zXq_3b-zwNkkGUYoWnYLXo9YciMJczjH9LR_vj1-f$
> >>>> <
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__http://www.americandialect.org__;!!OToaGQ!_jN=
> > 9Hv1bByM7bqNIdEen4L2zXq_3b-zwNkkGUYoWnYLXo9YciMJczjH9LR_vj1-f$
> >>>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >>>> The American Dialect Society -
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__http://www.americandialect.org__;!!OToaGQ!_jN=
> > 9Hv1bByM7bqNIdEen4L2zXq_3b-zwNkkGUYoWnYLXo9YciMJczjH9LR_vj1-f$
> >>>>
> >>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >>>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> --
> >>> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the
> >> truth."
> >>>
> >>> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >>>
> >>
> >> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >>
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>


-- 
- Wilson
-----
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

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